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Blumenthal Grills Sessions on Ties to Hate Groups Omitted from Committee Questionnaire

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – In an exchange with U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) today during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing to consider his nomination to be Attorney General, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) raised serious concerns regarding awards and endorsements Sessions has received from hate groups including the David Horowitz Freedom Center, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and The Center For Security Policy. Sessions has also praised and participated in events with leaders of these organizations. Despite the fact that this information touches on some of the most controversial elements of Sessions’ nomination, it was omitted from the questionnaire Sessions submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee to proceed with his nomination hearing.

Blumenthal asked, “How can Americans have confidence that you’re going to enforce antidiscrimination laws if you’ve accepted awards from these kinds of groups and associated with these kinds of individuals and you won’t return the awards?”

During today’s hearing, Blumenthal grilled Sessions on his relationship with David Horowitz, the founder of an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “the premier financier of anti-Muslim voices and radical ideologies.”

“In 2003, at an event called Restoration Weekend, you gave a speech praising a man named David Horowitz as ‘a man I admire.’ David Horowitz has said, among other things, ‘all the major Muslim organizations in America [are] connected to the Muslim Brotherhood’ and ‘80 percent of the mosques [are] filled with hate against Jews and Americans.’ He’s also made a number of statements about African-Americans, as in, ‘too many blacks are in prison because too many blacks commit crimes.’ You praised him as ‘a man I admire.’ That statement was omitted from your response to the committee. Did you omit it because you were embarrassed about praising David Horowitz,” Blumenthal asked.

Sessions denied being aware of the statements and reiterated his previous praise for Horowitz, referring to statements included in what Sessions called “his brilliant book” about becoming “a more traditional American person.” After another exchange with Blumenthal, Sessions said, “I don’t believe David Horowitz is a racist.” 

Video of Blumenthal’s exchange with Sessions is available for download here.

David Horowitz, who Sessions called “a most brilliant individual” today has written in his book, The Art of Political War and Other Radical Pursuits, that “guns don’t kill blacks, other black people do” and further that it is “obvious” that “too many blacks are in prison because too many blacks commit crimes.” Horowitz has also written that “all the major Muslim organizations in America [are] connected to the Muslim Brotherhood” and “80 percent of the mosques [are] filled with hate against Jews and Americans.”

Blumenthal also questioned Sessions on his receipt of the “Franklin Society Award,” which he received from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2007. The Southern Poverty Law Center has listed the FAIR as a “hate group” and noted that its leaders “have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists.” The President of FAIR, John Tanton, has said that, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” He also said that, “too much diversity leads to divisiveness and conflict.” Tanton has contributed $2,000 to Sessions’ political campaigns.

Earlier in the day, Blumenthal questioned Sessions on his endorsement by the organization Operation Rescue. The President of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman, released a statement that the murder of abortion doctors could be “legally justified and permissible under the law” and that the murderer of an abortion doctor should be treated as a political prisoner.  He also wrote that the government has a “responsibility” that “rightly involves executing” abortion providers. Operation Rescue participated in the multi-decade harassment campaign of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas, which ended in tragedy when Scott Roeder, an active part of Operation Rescue activities, murdered Dr. Tiller in 2009.

During that exchange, Blumenthal was able to secure a commitment from Sessions to enforce the laws that protect women and doctors from entering clinics and a disavowal of activity that would lead to the murder of abortion providers. After questioning by Blumenthal, Sessions said that “a group that would even suggest that is unacceptable.”

Video of Blumenthal’s earlier exchange with Sessions is available for download here.